Merry Christmas 2004

Merry Christmas & Happy New Year to all of you, from both of us

A lot has happened this year that I kind of
forgot about until now. Some

Jasmina’s mum Velinka stayed with us
February-May, which was fantastic. We thought she
might be bored, since she doesn’t speak any English & we had to work during
the day. Actuallly she really enjoyed her time and would have stayed longer if
it had been possible to delay her return flight. My Serbian is not so hot,
sadly, but we have a wonderful relationship despite the communication
difficulties — she likes to cook, and I like to eat. It’s a wonder I didn’t put
on more weight than I did. We did some fun touristy things, went to the
aquarium, toured Harvard, & went up to Ipswich to visit Glen’s family. Our friends
also appreciated her cooking at parties, dinners and birthdays!

The biggest thing was switching jobs, both our current ones finished
this year so at the end of last year we were madly applying for new ones.
Imagine our surprise in March when we were both offered the same job at MIT —
we’d thought there was only one position when we applied. Things became a bit
tense when we discovered that a bureaucratic stuffup at Harvard meant that
Jasmina would have to leave the country for a minimum of 2 years before she
could ever work here again. It was really looking like she would not be able to
take up the job at MIT, which would have been bitterly disappointing to us
both. Luckily we managed to correct things and she switched to a new visa
without the 2 year requirement. Oh, the joy of being a nonresident alien
exchange visa holder. I started my new job in July, while Jasmina had to wait
until November. She’s been loving it so far, & has big plans to make the
most of the gym, sports clubs, anime society etc.

We did quite a lot of traveling over the
year; I had trips to Atlanta, New Orleans, Tucson & Santa Barbara for
various conferences and visiting collaborators.
New Orleans was fun — insane,
but fun. More recently we took a trip up to Vermont for a weekend, visiting
several local food and drink producers, including the Ben & Jerry’s ice
cream factory (mmmm). We inadvertently took separate holidays; Jasmina back to
Serbia, where she visited with her mum and all the relatives, and also managed
to get down to the Adriatic coast for a week. I was too busy to go with her,
but I managed to wangle a
trip back home of my own in September. I stayed with
Stuart & Belinda in Melbourne, Stuart now has his own graphic design
business which is going pretty well. I also had 5 days up in Maroochydore,
hanging out with mum & dad and Morag. Because Jasmina’s permanent residency
visa was still processing, she couldn’t come with me; however, we just heard
that her visa was approved, so now there’s nothing stopping us returning to
Australia permanently.

Here in our suburb of Watertown we have a
growing group of friends who live close by, which makes entertaining etc.
convenient. The social highlight of the week is the semi-regular mid-week
drinking club meeting down at Conleys, our local. We also had everyone around
to watch the fourth (and what turned out to be the final) game in the World
Series, which the Red Sox won — first time in 86 years. They take their
baseball pretty seriously round here, it was truly a momentous occasion.

Arrivals & departures — everyone seems
to be having babies at the moment. Dimitrios & Feryal’s new daughter Deniz
arrived on April 14th (also my birthday!), and also Paul &
Jeno’s new son Jordan in December. Roberto, a friend of ours who studied with
us in Australia, arrived from the UK on a 1-year fellowship at Harvard. Sadly
for us (but happily for them) two of our closest Australian friends here both
left, Lisa & Reuben for Hawaii and Andrew, Riki and Jessie for Sydney.

The biggest news of all for us was when I was offered a 2-year
fellowship at the University of Melbourne, to start in July 2005. This week I
accepted! We have a lot of details to work out before the return, Jasmina may
stay for a bit longer to serve out at least a year at MIT, after the epic
battle we went through to allow her to take the job. We are incredibly happy to
be going home, the work here has been fantastic, and we have met some wonderful
people, but it is just not home and doesn’t have anywhere near the same quality
of life as Australia. Being so far away from all our family and friends doesn’t
help either. So with a bit of luck this will be our last long-distance
Christmas communiqué, hopefully in a year’s time we will be more or less
settled in Melbourne and making the most of it all.

We hope this letter finds you well &
happy, all the best for the holiday season and may the new year bring you
everything you wish for

Duncan & Jasmina


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